Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Feb 20 2020 - Acts 3:1-26 – Walking and leaping and praising God

What a wonderful story Luke tells in the healing of the lame man who begged at Gate Beautiful of the Temple. As he lay there one afternoon, begging as usual, Peter and John came to the Temple to pray. He asked them for money. They had none to give, but Peter had a far better gift for him. He commanded the man, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” and, taking him by the hand, Peter helped him up.

Well, I say he helped him up, but I don’t think that any human help was necessary. No sooner had Peter spoken his words than the man’s feet and ankles (and legs also) were given strength and he jumped up. Nor did he merely walk sedately into the Temple with Peter and John. No, he was walking and leaping and praising God. What a sight he must have been, making such a spectacle of himself on such hallowed ground – enough to wake the beadles!

What struck me particularly was the exuberance of this man’s response to all that Jesus had done for him. Not surprising really after all of these years lame, never having been able to walk or perhaps even stand unaided. He was healed instantly. And more than healed for he could immediately walk and leap – rather than having to begin a process of learning to walk as does a toddler. It’s no surprise that he used all of his new-found powers in such an extravagant way. It’s no wonder that as he walked and leaped he praised God with such uninhibited fervour. What is more to be wondered at is that we, whose lives have been touched by the Lord, are so inhibited in praise and in the exercise of the power of our new life. We fear the attention of the crowds. We avoid having to give an explanation of ourselves.

As the crowds gathered to see what was going on and realised that this was the man who for years had been laid out helpless at the Temple gate, they were astonished. And this gives Peter the perfect opening for his second sermon recorded in Acts.

There is much that is remarkable about Peter’s sermon. But, in particular, he emphasises that the recent death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ are the focus of the whole of Scripture. Peter says that Moses told the people to listen to the prophets whom God would send them, and particularly to the One whom God would send. Peter adds, “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days” (Acts 3:24). You are living, says Peter, in the days when all that God promised beforehand is being fulfilled. What generations beforehand longed to see, you are now experiencing – “You are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers” (3:25). Indeed, God is now fulfilling the promise he made long ago to Abraham, “He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’”

Peter is declaring that Jesus is the one in whom the promises God made to Abraham find their fulfilment. Moses and all of the prophets pointed towards him. He is the fulfilment of all of the purposes of God. Peter concludes, “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways” (3:26). He pleads that those who have witnessed this miracle in the powerful name of the Lord Jesus may turn to him in faith and find in him forgiveness of sins and eternal life. They are to live by him, for him and towards the coming of him whom, “Heaven must receive … until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets” (3:21).

Jesus Christ, you are the heart of the purposes of God, the centre and meaning of history. May you be the centre of my life and the power by which I live each day that you may give. May you enable me to be part of your purpose of bringing blessing to all peoples on earth.

Peter Misselbrook